A proposed change to the Riverwood International Charter School design would renovate instead of replace the auditorium and performing arts spaces to reduce costs for the over-budget project, the Fulton County School System explained at a Feb. 12 meeting.

The new design, if approved, still would go an estimated $3.8 million over budget rather than $14.6 million for the current design. The approved budget for the entire project is $102.9 million. The proposed changes were briefly described at the Board of Education’s Feb. 12 non-voting work session. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal later this month at its Feb. 21 meeting.

The explanation of the change was originally described in meeting documents as building a smaller school building, but that was later corrected to say it would be actually be slightly larger, said Patrick Burke, the district’s chief operating officer.

A Fulton County School System illustration shows the proposed changes for the Riverwood International Charter School project. The affected area, the gym and auditorium, is shown in dark brown.

The school, located at 5900 Raider Drive, is being built in seven phases. Phases 3 through 7 are the ones that would be addressed with the change. The main school building and media center have already been built.

The shell of the existing performing arts areas and auditorium like the steel, walls, foundation and roof, would reused instead of demolished, Burke said.

“Everything one sees, feels and touches will be new, but we will not incur the costs associated with the steel and concrete,” Burke said. Some parts of the building would also be reconfigured with new interior walls.

A Fulton County School System illustration shows the Riverwood International Charter School design that was approved in 2018.

The gym and related physical education spaces would be new and identical to the approved design, but reoriented, Burke said. The new gym would be built farther north than under the original proposal to be next to the existing auditorium. The practice field becomes full size and moves behind the gym.

The change would save the district an estimated $10 million on a project that is already millions over budget. The board previously had to approve a $5 million increase for the second phase in 2018.

Burke has previously said that the higher costs were being caused by the complicated nature of building the project in seven construction phases and how the project is being funded. Increased material prices and tariffs were also driving the increases.

The Riverwood project is expected to be discussed more at school board member Gail Dean’s monthly community meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the school.